Dawn of the Dead

Directed by George A. Romero

> > Apr 2004

Dawn of the Dead - Directed by George A. Romero
By Chris GramlichWith a putrefied remake currently dominating the box-office, it makes sense to re-release the original to not only capitalise on renewed interest but also to show the youngsters how it is done. George A. Romero's original 1978 Dawn of the Dead (the second in his Dead trilogy) is a classic film that managed to transcend the "horror" genre by its savvy, if over-analysed, depiction of consumer-driven culture and its excesses while keeping the blood flowing, the zombies lumbering, the gore gruesome and alleviating the gross with subtle bits of humour. Set basically right after Night of the Living Dead, although filmed a decade later, zombies are basically staggering amuck while society breaks down and bands of survivors seek zombie-free locales. One such group (two cops, a helicopter pilot and his girlfriend) find a zombie-infested shopping mall and decide to hole up there, what with its plethora of everything an able body consumer would ever need. Of course, paradise eventually turns to purgatory (what do you get the people who have everything, save freedom?) and, tellingly, it's not the zombies who ruin this sanctuary but other humans. Visually, horror films "age" more than most other genres, save maybe sci-fi, and the blood looks a little too paint-like and the gore less realistic by today's standards. But a strong transfer helps and there are still some of the most disturbing horror moments (the bowel eating scene, the screwdriver in the ear, the numerous head shots) ever. There's simply no disputing the legacy of this classic film, which has influenced all zombie movies since and a good chunk of horror. Besides photo galleries and a Romero bio, the only substantial extra is commentary from Romero, make-up artist Tom Savini, assistant director Chris Romero and a moderator. It's a good listen, with Savini's enthusiasm palpable even after all these years, and the commentary takes the form of reminiscing over an old friend, rather than a film school dissection. One of the most interesting tidbits has to be hearing Geroge's outline for the fourth Dead movie and what he would need to make it. Hopefully, one day he will. Plus: trailers, posters, more. (Anchor Bay)
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